Edited by John B. Davis, Alain Marciano and Jochen Runde
Chapter 19: Collective Intentionality, Complex Economic Behavior, and Valuation
John B. Davis ‘We think, therefore we are.’ (Shaftesbury, 1900 , vol. 2, p. 275) In this chapter I depart from the standard view of the individual in economics as an atomistic being to consider the individual as a socially embedded being. There are of course many different ways of understanding individuals as socially embedded; the conception I employ, however, is based on collective intentionality analysis, particularly as formulated by Raimo Tuomela. There is an advantage to economic analysis in doing this. Whereas other views of social embeddedness are holistic, and reason mostly in terms of social entities, collective intentionality analysis is explicitly an account of individuals, albeit in a particular kind of social setting. This makes it possible to compare the understanding of economic behavior that emerges from a collective intentionality analysis of individuals with the understanding of economic behavior associated with the standard rationality view of individuals as atomistic beings. Further, as an account of individuals, collective intentionality analysis also offers a way of understanding the seemingly paradoxical idea that individuals can be socially embedded and yet remain distinct beings. The basic idea derives from our understanding of ﬁrst person plural intentions, or we-intentions. Only individuals form such intentions, just as only individuals form ﬁrst person singular intentions, or I-intentions, but we-intentions effectively embed social relationships in individuals. This contrasts with holist accounts of social embeddedness that rather run the risk of eliminating individuals when they embed individuals in social relationships. Collective intentionality analysis thus allows us to...
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